Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Choosing Life or Death

Choosing Life or Death
Physician Assisted Dying 2
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
Deuteronomy 30:19
                A correction first of all. In last week’s blog it was stated “The Canadian government is considering legislation around what is known as physician assisted suicide.” The title on the Final Report is “Provincial-Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying.” I apologize for this error. The first discussions I was involved with used the term physician assisted suicide as opposed to dying. But maybe this is also a starting point for this reflection as well. By renaming the process of helping another person complete the process of dying, maybe it will take the stigma of what is now pending implementation.
The report that this advisory group is now being taken on the road and meeting with interested people as they share 43 recommendations on the implementation of physician assisted dying in Canada.  The first recommendation is for the “provinces and territories (preferably in collaboration with the federal government) should develop and implement a pan Canadian strategy for palliative and end of life care, including physician assisted dying.” This document also recommends that this “collaboration and coordination with all relevant organizations and institutions as soon as possible to ensure the smooth and timely implementation of physician assisted dying in Canada.”  Therefore, it is not a matter of if, but the reality of when this will be implemented across Canada. (Quebec has already been doing this since the legislation passed in December.”.
The 41 other recommendations discuss the implementation of this process which leads to those with “grievous and irremediable medical conditions”  and  are competent to do so to seek physicians to assist in their dying.  This legislation affects more than physicians as it also deals with ethics and as people of faith, one must also question our spiritual understanding of God and the gift of life,
God breathed into Adam and gave life. At the end of one’s life, breathing slows and steadily stops. But what happens to the part of the individual who leaves that body- that is their spirit? What role does faith have in these discussions of competency leading to expediting the inevitable the separation of the body and the spirit.
                People have been struggling with death throughout time even though our stories of the Old Testament remind us that death only became a part of human life because the first people chose to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Yet it is God who called subsequent generations, including us, to choose life. And to choose life means to have a life of dignity love and hope. The question tosses us to the alternative- when a person’s life is no longer dignified or filled with love and all hope is gone who chooses what occurs.  This is when we should seek God’s guidance and strength and pray.

As I continue t read through the report I question ethics and faith and wonder what does it mean for this country. We value life, and often never talk about death but when it comes to being able to choose death we do so for selfish reasons?  Comment about this as we continue to lift up the issues and concerns of this report in light of your faith and God’s gift of eternal life.
Gracious God give us understanding and call us to know your will for us. You ask us to choose life, to live and prosper but what happens when diseases overwhelm us. What are we do to when new options are opened to us? What are we to do and how might we respond?  Help us O God to reflect on your words and to show us your way.  We ask this in Jesus’ name. For it is through Jesus’ death that there is life eternal. Amen.

If you would like more about the pending legislation regarding physician assisted dying please go to where  the Final report which is pending before the government is located.

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